Parents are beginning to push for the freedom to choose
Giving families the opportunity to open the schools they want where they want sounds attractive.
But the reality, as the parents in north west Bristol who successfully worked to achieve one of Britain's first free schools last year, will testify, is that it entails a lot of hard work.
And, as the decision last month to pull the plug on a planned free school in Bradford just nine days before it was due to open shows, it is fraught with difficulties all the way.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Two more groups have been given the go-ahead to develop primary free schools in the city next year and several more in Bristol and the surrounding area are developing plans for 2014.
Among them are parents who would like to see a state-funded school offering education that follows the Steiner philosophy.
Bristol already has a fee-charging Steiner school in Redland and some of the group behind Steiner Academy Bristol have children who are pupils there.
Joe Evans, one of the parent campaigners, said: "We'd love not to have to pay fees. But there is a point of principle too. We don't see why a Steiner education should not be available to anyone who wants it.
"The free school agenda is about getting diversity into the system and offering more choice for parents.
"A lot of the debate around free schools centres on opposition. But this disguises the underlying conceptual change from a common standards education system to a system where in any one town there will be schools with quite different priorities. Our school will be genuinely, substantively different."
So what is it about schools that adopt the ideas of Rudolf Steiner in Germany a century ago that attracts?
Mr Evans said: "Steiner schools are more in tune with how children really are. They are more honest and real about child development, rather than squeezing children into highly tested and measured regime."
Fellow campaigner Sarah Horne, who works in the NHS, added: "It is a very balanced way of approaching each child. Our children end up being the people they want to be. Different strengths are brought out."
Joe Mapson, who had a Steiner education himself, wants the same for his children, who are aged two and four. He said: "It gives children the time to discover through doing without having to regurgitate what they have learned."
Steiner Free Schools have been established in Hereford and Frome but the Bristol project would be the first in an inner-city setting.
Campaigners say it would offer child-directed learning but would move towards a more formal curriculum, offering mainstream qualifications in core academic subjects alongside expressive arts, practical and vocational skills and community involvement.
Teachers would be paid national rates and class sizes would be similar to other state schools.
It website states: "We do not confuse measurements of success with success itself. Good GCSE and Key Stage test results are not the aim of a good education, they are a symptom of it. We will define our own measures of educational success; we will monitor our performance against those measures; and we will share our results."
The parents have held talks with the city council about possible premises, as they want to ensure they open their school in an area where it can help meet the need for school places. They are looking at BS3, BS5 or BS6.
"We hope we will end up in a neighbourhood where we have got strong support and where we can become part of the community," said Mr Evans, a site manager at Circomedia and father of two daughters, aged five and seven.
Wherever it is based, the school will have a "nearest first" admissions policy, giving places to all who live close to the school and would like to attend.
The school will be open to children aged four to 16 and intends to take in pupils at several age stages from 2014, including reception (four-year-olds) and Year 6 (age 11). The intention is to grow to a capacity of 624.
To win approval, it must demonstrate demand from parents of children of the relevant age. The group is well on the way, with 428 supporters signed up so far and volunteers spreading the word and offering help with tasks including the completion of an application form of more than 400 pages that has to be in by January.
The campaigners are keen to work with other schools and the city council and say the authority has been broadly supportive.
Ms Horne said: "Our experience as a group is around collaborative working. We want to be part of the bigger picture. We feel that we can add something to that."
Opponents fear that free schools will destabilise existing provision. But the group believes its plan would be good value for money, enabling extra places to be created with additional Government investment rather than using funding already allocated to the city. It also does not believe it would have too much impact on the existing Steiner school, as it will be in a different area and will have larger classes.